Substance, not style

Written By: - Date published: 1:37 pm, January 31st, 2008 - 46 comments
Categories: blogs, labour - Tags: , , ,

I don’t know if this is breaking some cyber protocol (oh, but I don’t much care if I am) but I want to put Jordan Carter‘s post on Helen Clark’s speech up here on The Standard.

The reason is that while I agree with a lot of what IrishBill said – mainly that her speech was worthy but dull and a missed opportunity – I think what Jordan says is worth attention and wanted to link it but the such is the nature of commentary on these blogs that by the end of 60+ rants and ravings amongst the serious stuff and everyone just wandering off the topic, Helen’s speech no longer felt relevant. So I’m putting it up here instead. Thanks JC.

Helen’s speech this morning was a substantive contribution to the youth policy debate. The new announcements – youth apprenticeships and a higher age before people can be free of training or education – contrasts nicely with Key’s more negative effort the day before.

The speech also located that policy in the broader context. You can’t slice and dice our society and our world. The bits all relate to each other. Clark was saying that youth will grow up best in a society that looks after all of us. She wants a policy that brings everyone to the height of their talents, not only one that punishes people for getting things wrong.

So that is why she can properly pin responsibility for many of today’s youths’ problems on the previous National government. Key dismissed that on Morning Report this morning, showing again how little he understands public policy. He said, what happens 18 yrs ago is irrelevant. He’s wrong. National was in power for a decade and systematically sought to undermine the welfare state and the decent society.

A whole generation – my generation – has been scarred for life by that approach to politics and public life. We are the children of the revolution and the only miracle is that more of us are not disasters.
It takes years and decades to build up a decent society, but it’s a lot quicker to wreck one. National and Labour proved that well in the 1980s and 1990s. Painful, slow progress has been made since. National just offers a return to the past.

Back to Clark’s speech. It was, as the headline suggests, not a captivating or stylish speech. That isn’t Helen Clark’s style. She is a serious politician who cares about solving the problems. While I (and others) might wish for a more visionary style of speaking, that isn’t what she does. Shes does fact and plain honest policy.

Somehow in these days of soundbites, presidential campaigning, slick Hollow Men-style inoculations, that is a reassuring thought.

46 comments on “Substance, not style”

  1. Billy 1

    Got it. The present sound economic position is a result of Labour’s excellent management of the economy. Any social problems are as a result of National policies implemented in 1990. Makes perfect sense.

  2. East Wellington Superhero 2

    “Clark was saying that youth will grow up best in a society that looks after all of us. She wants a policy that brings everyone to the height of their talents, not only one that punishes people for getting things wrong.”

    Societies don’t raise children – families do. This is something that Labour just doesn’t seem to get.

    A policy doesn’t raise people up – encouraging and inspiring relationships with people in one’s family and community do that. This is another thing that Labour either doesn’t get, or doesn’t want to accept.

    The state (whoever or whatever that is) can’t do everything, it can’t be everywhere. We have to trust parents. We have to trust families and we have to trust communities.

    Also, Clark’s policy is no different to National’s so please don’t try to paint it as dynamically different, let alone any better.

  3. Sam Dixon 3

    EWS – the policies are substanitally different, Labour is raising the complusory education age, National is not – it is merely providing free education until 18 in tertariy institutes as well as high school and it is taking away the befntis of those who don’t study

    – check out http://kiwiblogblog.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/helping-problem-youth-the-right-way-the-wrong-way/

  4. Historian 4

    Of course there’s no substance. Key shifts like the wind on the Waitemata – and here’s the latest:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4382654a10.html

    You righties had better hope there really is a “hidden agenda”, because otherwise Helen’s getting her 4th term. Whether she wins the election or not.

  5. East Wellington Superhero 5

    Sam
    The Prime Minister said on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint yesterday that students who didn’t suit high-school would be allowed to attend other teaching institutions if it suited them. Despite the PM’s attempts to lead the reporter (Mary Wilson) away from the questions she was asking about that aspect, Clark was forced to admit that this aspect was indeed no different to National. The PM then tried to recover by saying that the policy would aspire (but not force) 18 year-olds to stick with high-school over other educational institutions. Clearly that’s not optimal because not everyone is suited to high-school – but that’s beside the point – the PM was forced to admit that that aspect wasn’t any different to National’s policy the day before.

    True, there is a difference but it’s not the one that people are really focusing on. Not being allowed to get a benefit if you don’t engage in that free education is National’s policy. What I’d like to ask you, and the PM, is are you really suggesting that 17 year-olds should be allowed to drift from school to the dole with no pressure? If so then that completely undermines the very rhetoric the PM is using when she says how aspirational she is for kids to stay in school. C’mon, answer that.

  6. Draco TB 6

    Societies don’t raise children – families do.

    Wrong. So very, very wrong. The child has to grow up feeling as if they are a part of society and that doesn’t happen if you leave it solely to the families. That means that the society needs to encourage families to participate in communal activities with their children to encourage and teach social interaction. If we don’t we will end up with more crime along the lines of the mafia. Don’t believe me? The Black Power, Mongrel Mob etc are all essentially extended families. Society is missing out by being exclusive rather than inclusive.

    A policy doesn’t raise people up – encouraging and inspiring relationships with people in one’s family and community do that.

    And it was the policies of the National government in the 1990s that tore apart that social integration by making sure that those most in need of it were denied it. You need to have money to participate in society and so, by decreasing the benefits, National effectively threw a large chunk of society out. They then seemed to have thought that those peoples kids would grow up thanking them for it.

    The state (whoever or whatever that is) can’t do everything, it can’t be everywhere. We have to trust parents. We have to trust families and we have to trust communities.

    This is about the only thing you got right but you missed the bit where we have to ensure that our trust is properly placed.

  7. Billy 7

    “That means that the society needs to encourage families to participate in communal activities with their children to encourage and teach social interaction. If we don’t we will end up with more crime along the lines of the mafia. Don’t believe me?”

    No. Families are like the Black Power? You are off your head.

    And since bad social outcomes are National’s fault, does that mean National can take credit for the good economy?

  8. My family was like Black Power…

  9. Billy 9

    That figures, ‘sod.

  10. East Wellington Superhero 10

    Draco TB,
    Perhaps I needed to add more detail. My point is that the Left often uses the word “society” and that this ususally means the government and the state. Of course kids are raised be more than just their parents. However, parents are by far and away the most important people for raising kids and should be where any agency, state, community or church, puts its energy. Extended family come next with communities and state taking a very back seat.

    Your comments about ‘trust’ are interesting too. You said that this must be ‘properly placed’. Who decides if and where it is properly placed?

    Answer this
    – how much more important are parents over the state for raising children?
    – who decides who can be trusted to raise kids?

  11. AncientGeek 11

    I noticed that when I listened to the streamed morning report. It was one of the most clueless things I’ve heard in a while, especially from a senior politician like Key.

    Key dismissed that on Morning Report this morning, showing again how little he understands public policy. He said, what happens 18 yrs ago is irrelevant. He’s wrong. National was in power for a decade and systematically sought to undermine the welfare state and the decent society.

    I remember the after effects of the the Mother Of All Budgets. I was around the retail sector at that point, and consumer spending dropped like a stone. You can understand why.

    My sister was on the DPB after separating from her ex in 91. She had two pre-school kids and no way to hold down a job because there was not enough preschool if you couldn’t pay for it. So she was doing training at tech and juggling hours around kids and courses. That budget nearly made her drop the course – petrol or preschool were the only things that could be cut. There was certainly no money for any discretionary spending.

    In her case, the rest of the family helped. But if that hadn’t happened, she would have been unlikely to retrain, move off the DPB and now pay most of her taxes in the top tax bracket. Her kids were tough to handle as it was – I’d hate to think what would have happened if my sister had had to go into a dead end job or stay on the DPB.

    I think that National is largely responsible for what poor youth problem we have today, they created a poverty trap. That poverty trap causes developmental problems in small kids – and you see the results in adolescence – ie now.

    And just for Billy. Of course the country didn’t benefit from the saved money. For the following years the government had a reduced tax take; far in excess of the minuscule tax cuts. The cuts in welfare, while we were moving out of a global recession, were sufficient to put NZ back into its own recession. We had bad growth rates, relatively high inflation, and high interest rates. It stayed there while every other western country was enjoying high growth rates for about 5 or 6 years.

    I’m afraid that Key, from his statement, doesn’t really understand that you don’t know history, so you’re doomed to repeat it. With kids, it can take 20 years to find out what effect your policies had. So it pays to think then through. The more I think about his short-term ideas, the more I get worried about them.

    captcha: decade the

  12. What do you mean.Billy the kid ?

  13. Tane 13

    ‘Sod… are you… Dad?

  14. lawyer dude 14

    No Tane dad4justice is locked up at ChCh Central.
    I swear on the Bible mate.
    Cheers,it must be all the warm weather and the full moon madam speaker.

    [lprent – junk warning – this is probably dad4justice under yet another alias. It is in his usual IP range and with the usual comment type.]

  15. East Wellington Superhero 15

    Oh brother!
    The reason those cuts happened was because NZ was in MASSIVE debt. Jim Bolger was called on the morning after the election and told he had to be in Wellington the next day. Bolger said no way buddy, I just fought an election and I need a break. He was then told yes way, NZ’s got some big problems, you’ve gotta get down to Treasury now.

    Even if you could legitimately square today’s social problems on the 1991 budget (which I think is just ridicuous), it was needed. Trying to maintain benefits and service debt is impossible. PM Clark knows that such an explanation of 1991 budget doesn’t fit into a sound-bite and that John Key can’t do that so she has the the cheek to blame a National government 17 years ago – this is just ugly deception by the PM.

    I mean why can’t I just blame the six years of Labour prior to the Bolger govt? Or perhaps it’s Muldoon’s fault! Yes, let’s blame Robert Muldoon who quit 24 years ago – the current government who’s been there for 8 years can’t possbily be to blame.

    I note AncientGeek’s comments about family coming to the aid of his relation – this is way it should be with the state help as a last resort.

    Kids in trouble today are not products of the 1991 budget, they are products or poor parenting and shit schools that offer no hope; parents who have had backs turned on them by politicians that want to throw money at them rather than have some guts to help them live in a better way. And don’t give me any shit about Tory charity or a paternalistic attitude – I’ve worked with poor families and at risk kids and this is what both parents and the kids need and want. They want to be shown a better way but we are too wimpy and too scared of looking like we’re telling people how to live and so don’t try and help people.

    Ruth Richardson! Give me a break!
    Maybe we should be asking why on earth a PM and an education minister are in charge when neither of them have kids!

  16. East Wellington Superhero 16

    I’m feeling pretty red-hot at the moment because your foolish and ill-informed views are causing suffering in my neighbourthoods.
    I’m going to go for a walk to cool off.

  17. No I am not this this dad youspeak of ?My mother is a fish .

  18. Tane 18

    your foolish and ill-informed views are causing suffering in my neighbourthoods.

    As opposed to benefit cuts, market rents and the Employment Contracts Act…?

  19. Tane 19

    Here’s a nice little summary from Wikipedia, EWS. I know it’s not authoritative but it’ll give you some background for further reading:

    Richardson’s first budget, delivered in 1991 and named by the media as ‘the mother of all budgets'[1], introduced major cuts in social welfare spending. Unemployment and other benefits were substantially cut, and ‘market rents’ were introduced for state houses, in some cases tripling the rents of low-income people.[1] In combination with the high [un]employment resulting from some of the 1980s reforms, this caused poverty to increase, and foodbanks and soup kitchens appeared in New Zealand for the first time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    The government also felt that market forces should be introduced into the running of hospitals, schools and universities. User charges were introduced in universities and hospitals for the first time, and educational institutes were instructed to compete with each other for students. Although not a policy as such, the government’s retention of the superannuation surtax (a tax on pensions), despite promising to abolish it, was also significant.

  20. lawyer dude 20

    “My mother is a fish .”

    So is mine.She is called Mrs Hoki Tuna Snapper .
    My dad is from the stunned mullet family.My sister is a frog and my brother is a toad.

    I vote green for obvious reasons.

    [lprent – junk warning – this is probably dad4justice under yet another alias. It is in his usual IP range and with the usual comment type.]

  21. East Wellington Superhero 21

    Wikipedia.
    Solid.

  22. I like greenbeans with jelly !dote vote there watchingyou.shhhh !

  23. r0b 23

    I’m feeling pretty red-hot at the moment because your foolish and ill-informed views are causing suffering in my neighbourthoods.
    I’m going to go for a walk to cool off.

    EWS, you and I are on the opposite ends of just about every political debate, but can I just say that you’re displaying considerable wisdom there!

    If only more of us took some time to cool off before posting, the ‘sphere would be a much much better place…

  24. Heh, you guys must be off the ninth floor talking points list now you have to resort to posting Jordan’s fawning little pieces.

    Sad, hollow, fellows

    Learn not to embarrass your political masters.

  25. East Wellington Superhero 25

    r0b,
    I don’t know why I get worked up. It’s not as though many people even read thestandard or as though it has any influence. Especially now that we all know it’s a Labour site.
    None-the-less, I think policies that (to use that much maligned Don Brash phrase) don’t offer people a hand up, and instead give them hand out, are toxic to kiwis and their families. Toxic to their motivation, aspirations, self-confidence and sense of responsibility.
    Of course there will always be people that need help from the state and National will never abolish that (those that say we will are liars) but the current order needs to change. I for one will be fighting for it.
    Blaming the 1991 budget is crazy – it’s like blaming the heat and the moon! Middle NZ won’t buy it. It will signal to them that the PM and Labour have lost the plot.
    That’s me for the day.
    I’m off to sunny eastern Wellington.

  26. Learn not to embarrass your political masters.

    Are you for real with this shit fool? I mean if we’re gonna talk “embarrassing” then I can’t think of anyone more so than you boy.

    Speaking of which, have you clicked that Davey is cutting you loose yet? Here’s a hint: he’s not posting on the FSC because he’s embarrassed to be seen in the same coalition as you. I can’t say I blame him, if I had political ambition I wouldn’t want a millstone like you around my neck either. How’s your dad?

    Oh and I might do a post about your fake stats (and subsequent dodgy ad revenue)soon…

  27. Matthew Pilott 27

    The difference between an hand up and a hand out is pretty much in people’s minds. Do they think of a benefit as an entitlement or temporary assistance. It’s not the system that makes the individual’s decision on whether to improve their lot by toil, or stay as they are.

    Reductions in welfare hurt those genuinely in need as much, if not more, than those who take advantage of the system (given their inability to manipulate the system). There will always be such people, but must we punish those in need because of the miscreants? Do you know what the proportion is? How do you decide the level of pressure (poverty) to apply?

    It’s bloody good up here eh anyway. Hope you enjoy the sun, all 24° of it 🙂

  28. r0b 28

    I don’t know why I get worked up. It’s not as though many people even read thestandard or as though it has any influence.

    It is what it is, no more, no less. (I’m feeling Zen today).

    Especially now that we all know it’s a Labour site.

    It’s a left wing site, not a Labour Party site. There is a difference! This was all thrashed out last week (while I, thank goodness, was away climbing a few wee hills).

    None-the-less, I think policies that (to use that much maligned Don Brash phrase) don’t offer people a hand up, and instead give them hand out,

    Actually, that phrase goes back at least as far as Margaret Thatcher, and it may not have been original even then.

    are toxic to kiwis and their families. Toxic to their motivation, aspirations, self-confidence and sense of responsibility. Of course there will always be people that need help from the state

    So you’re not arguing about the concept of state support, just the practicalities of where to draw the lines. Turns out that separating the toxic from the needy isn’t as simple as you might like to think EWS.

    Blaming the 1991 budget is crazy – it’s like blaming the heat and the moon! Middle NZ won’t buy it.

    Are you young EWS? The legacy of the 1991 budget is indeed with us still. To make silly analogies to the moon is to try and deny that the past shapes the present.

    I’m off to sunny eastern Wellington.

    Go well.

  29. Draco TB 29

    No. Families are like the Black Power? You are off your head.

    That’s not what I said. Obviously I wasn’t clear enough.

    What I tried to say is that if you remove support from people so that they cannot participate within society, cannot support themselves and tell them it’s all their fault as National did in the 1990s then they will create their own support networks such as the Black Power and the Mongrel Mob. They will feel no attachment to the greater society nor any need to follow its rules and crime will escalate.

  30. Monty 30

    Tane – you harp on about the Employment Contracts Act – again and if you were honest you would know that at the time NZ was beholden to unions, productivity was going backwards or stagnant at best, and unemployment was going through the roof. NZ could not compete internationally. Within months of the ECA 150,000 jobs were created and this peice of legislation was widely recognised as helping turn around the NZ economy from the depression inherited after the disgraceful fiscal policy of the 1987 to 1990 government.

    Compulsory unionism which was one of the main reasons for the need of the ECA in has never been reinstated (despite the wishes of the unions) and every employer in the country has been grateful for that for the past 17 years.

    If further bears worth mentioning that even you precious Labour Government did not exactly repeal the ECA, but has tinkered around the edges but has been careful to ensure the main intent and purpose of that legislation remained.

  31. AncientGeek 31

    EWS:

    I note AncientGeek’s comments about family coming to the aid of his relation – this is way it should be with the state help as a last resort.

    Sure – if they have people they can lean on. Some don’t. Some for one reason or another are alienated from their family or simply don’t have any. They may have had parents who had kids late, died early, or are superannuates when their kids have kids.

    What happens then. Well about 10-20 years later you often have a problem. The time frame is in the right order. The basic problem with kids is that the most destructive time is when they are quite young. It is also the time that a high proportion of marriages break up.

    You read the news lately? Yeah – sure the current government has done a lot and needs to do more. But the damage from one stupid government action carries down the generations.

    Hell – my mother is retired and works for womens refuge as a volunteer. They’re seeing the fallout from the 80’s and 90’s with 2nd generations now. What do you want them to do – stay somewhere and get beaten?

    This is the whole point in having something like the DPB available at acceptable levels. Its purpose is to provide resources to bring up kids decently – to break the cycles. It is what I pay taxes for – pay now is cheaper than pay later.

  32. RANDAL 32

    when the posts descend into the fallacy of division then they shoyuld get the chop! but going back to the topic and according to hooton on rnz key and the Prime MInister are both using sic’technicians’ arguments and all in all I found Helen Clarks argumentive to have more merit.

  33. Billy 33

    What a fun thread this has been. I like that we’ve all found a happy place in which Dad can exist. It’s good. He’s crazy performance art. We should have thought of it long ago.

    I have the great honour of being the first commenter on this thread. Wherein I said:

    “The present sound economic position is a result of Labour’s excellent management of the economy. Any social problems are as a result of National policies implemented in 1990

    No lefty has attempted to answer it. I’m pretty sure that this means I win.

  34. RANDAL 34

    billy dont be a hero. read some history…thebig buildup of right wing thinktanks in the us during the eighties and the wacko ideologies and philosophy that came out of them and accompanied national into power in 1990, self regulation, self responsibility, the civil society. plus and dont forget post modernism where my truth is al that counts and we now havea population of youth left with a noxious idea about society and being social and no idea about anything…you lose billy and so does national mainly for being stupid and believing crap written by rich neanderthals!

  35. mum 35

    Where is dad because the kids aren’t home yet for dinner.

    Randall cut back on the P intake mate.

    [lprent – junk warning – this is probably dad4justice under yet another alias. It is in his usual IP range and with the usual comment type.]

  36. Haha Mickey….do a post on my stats and my supposed “dodgy” ad revenue, looking forward to seeing that and how it matches up with the reality….Do you know anything about reality….no didn’t think so.

    My Dad is fine, thanks for showing concern. Had dinner with him tonight and he was on form. In fact you’ll all get to enjoy one of his suggestions soon.

  37. Fred 37

    Well said Billy. Pleased that mad dad has found a happy place but we do have http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=1015#comments maintaining the sub standard labour movement mouthpiece.

  38. I love it! “Ex-national party president advises useless son” what a thought! So anyway bro, why are all your “referrals” from anonymous IPs?

  39. I don’t know ikey, why don’t you tell me since you seem to be the resident boffin here now after Lynn plonked you all in the proverbial.

  40. I think you do know my fat friend. How about you post a comment at my blog sometime?

    Ha! captcha is “lawsuits race” – I think you lost.

  41. Blog, what Blog….You call that a blog…you’ve got a lot of catching up to do Mike.

    It is more like the ravings of 16 year olds…oh wait….it actually is.

  42. Jeff 42

    No National politician is a match for Helen Clark, Helem has had FAR more experience in dealing with people on a “down to earth basis” than anyone, not only that, how come NZs economy is better than it ever has been?.
    LABOUR FOREVER

  43. Yeah Cam, you’re probably right. I should maybe start with some creepy photoshopping and then move onto stalking people maybe? Perhaps then I could start fiddling my stats? After that all I’d have to do would be gain a few dozen kilos and sustain some kind of serious brain trauma and I could be in the big leagues with you. Um, nah. I think I’ll give that a miss.

  44. lprent 44

    Whale: there are many more posts on your blog that could do with the same treatment. About time you lifted your game up a bit?

    Lynn

  45. Santi 45

    “and all in all I found Helen Clarks argumentive to have more merit.”

    Nobody can deny your right to be another Clark’s sycophant, so tell us you also love her beautiful front teeth and coiffured hairstyle. You said it all, Randal.

  46. RANDAL 46

    welcom nitpicking pedants and santi…your rebuttal lacks substance and style and is another example of going offtopic to push a personal agenda concerning someonelses personal appearance…get a life dude…you are a disgrace to the political process

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